Military Retirement Benefits Not Income for Child Support in Clarksville, Tennessee Divorce: Baker v. Baker

February 8, 2021 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

Facts: Mother and Father are the married parents of two children.

Father had an affair with Girlfriend that produced a third child.

Mother and Father separated.

Father moved in with Girlfriend, and they had yet another child.

Mother filed for divorce.

Among other rulings, the trial court equitably divided the marital portion of Father’s military retirement benefits and ordered Father to pay child support.

Father appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

The first step in deciding child support is to calculate the gross income of each parent. Gross income is defined to include all income from any source, whether earned or unearned.

When calculating child support, Father argued the military retirement benefits received by Mother should count toward her gross income. The Court disagreed:

The child support guidelines provide that gross income includes income from “[p]enions or retirement plans including, but not limited to, Social Security, Veterans Affairs Department, Railroad Retirement Board, Keogh’s, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).” However, under Tennessee law, Father’s military retired pay is marital property subject to equitable distribution. [T]he trial court divided Father’s military retirement as part of the property division. Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-4-121(b)(1)(E) … states that “assets distributed as marital property will not be considered as income for child support or alimony purposes, except to the extent the asset will create additional income after the division.

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[T]he trial court properly declined to give Father credit for retirement benefits awarded to Mother as part of the property division. If the value of Father’s retirement benefits has significantly appreciated since the time of the divorce, Father may bring a petition to modify the child support award to reflect an increase in Mother’s gross income.

The trial court’s judgment was affirmed.

Baker v. Baker (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, January 28, 2021).

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Military Retirement Benefits Not Income for Child Support in Clarksville, Tennessee Divorce: Baker v. Baker was last modified: February 7th, 2021 by K.O. Herston

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